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NAB: CNN taps Sony XDCAM HD for hi-def launch

Sony’s big NAB news is that CNN will use the XDCAM HD optical format to support its launch of a high-definition service later this year on satellite operator DirecTV.

CNN plans to use XDCAM HD camcorders and decks for high-definition ENG and news production applications, and will roll-out the XDCAM HD system across its global newsgathering operations.

The CNN win is a major coup for Sony, which has been vying with Panasonic’s solid-state P2 HD format to be the high-definition ENG format of choice. P2 HD has won major deals from station groups, including the Fox O&O’s, while XDCAM HD has been tapped by CBS and NBC for network news production. NBC has also been experimenting with the format at a few O&O’s, including WNBC New York.

CNN’s decision may have been influenced by Sony’s plans to eventually integrate other types of storage beside optical disc into the XDCAM format, something Sony Broadcast CTO Hugo Gaggioni had hinted at in a pre-NAB briefing.  At NAB, Sony formalized that suggestion with the announcement of XDCAM EX, a future version which will use the MPEG-based XDCAM HD codec to store video on PC Express flash-memory cards from SanDisk Corporation.

Sony also snagged a major win for its high-end studio and field cameras, announcing that mobile truck vendor NEP Broadcasting will buy 150 Sony high-definition HDC-1500 and HDC-1000 cameras across its operations over the next two years. The multi-format cameras will primarily be used in mobile trucks for live sports and entertainment production. Sony’s HDC-1500 has proven popular with networks like NBC for its ability to be easily converted from a handheld to “hard”, i.e. pedestal-mounted camera, a factor that NEP cited as a major benefit.

“It’s the largest single camera order in Sony’s history,” says Sony SVP of marketing Alec Shapiro.

The exact terms of the NEP deal were not disclosed, but it is certainly worth in excess of $5 million. The HDC-1500 lists for $90,000, while the HDC-1000 has a list price of $100,000.